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War of the Realms #1 (of 6) (Marvel Comics)
Jason Aaron has been writing Thor for a very long time. Going as far back as his God of Thunder run, his work on the character is a true testament to “playing the long game”. He’s had Thor fight new villains, lose his title of the God of Thunder to Jane Foster, and be restored to his former glory (but not without taking a hand in the process). It’s an incredible achievement that Aaron has been able to keep with the character for so long, a fact that it’s even more surprising when you consider just how many titles have had creative changes at Marvel in the time since he started working on the character. But now it’s all coming to a head with War of the Realms, the latest event from the House of Ideas that will “change everything we know about the Marvel Universe”. But this event feels different from past big Marvel events, mainly because it seems like there’s been an actual sense of anticipation and build up from Jason Aaron and artist Russell Dauterman, who returns to the Asgardian to draw this massive tale.
For years, Malekith the Accursed has been assembling the various enemies of Asgard to bring war to Midgard. From Kurse to the Frost Giants, Malekith has worked tirelessly to prepare his army to make it the strongest it can be. And now, he’s finally going to bring that army to Midgard. With Thor trapped in the realm of the Frost Giants, it’s up to the Marvel heroes to hold the line in New York City against forces that have tested the mightiest of Asgardians in the past. But without the God of Thunder, can they really survive long?
Jason Aaron’s script does a wonderful job of ratcheting up the tensions in New York City. He has a great time setting this story up as a regular day for characters like Spider-Man, Daredevil, and The Punisher, but then everything is turned on its head once the forces of Malekith arrive. Many of the Marvel heroes are in way over their heads, and Aaron builds on that sense of being overwhelmed perfectly. If there’s one downside to this issue, it’s that a lot of the smaller aspects of the story might be overlooked by people picking this up without reading any of Aaron’s previous Thor work. It’s very involved in almost the entirety of his run, which makes it really rewarding for those of us who have followed it, but probably very confusing for those who are just picking this up because it’s the next big Marvel event.
Like Aaron, Russell Dauterman has been working on Thor and his world for a very long time, building to this moment. Dauterman is easily Marvel’s most underrated artist, just waiting for that one big hit book to really make him a breakout star. Well, I really think that War of the Realms is that book. This is going to put a lot more eyes on Dauterman’s style, and should raise his profile not only with the publisher, but with in the industry at large. The guy can draw anything: giant monsters, epic battles, quiet character moments, and make it seem ridiculously easy.
As the culmination of years worth of stories, War of the Realm puts it apart from many of the Marvel events of the past. That difference may put it at a disadvantage though, as it’s pretty heavily tied into multiple stories that came before it. But so far it has a really strong debut issue that doesn’t waste a lot of time getting into the action, and features a fantastic creative team telling the story they want. Here’s hoping that they can stick the landing.